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Catholic Church in England
Closing Half its Seminaries

Recently, the Associated Press reported that “Facing a drop in applicants for the priesthood, the Catholic Church said it is considering closing half its seminaries in England.” This would involve “merging its four seminaries into two after only half the training places were filled for the current academic year.”

    From a Rembrandt painting

    The prophet Jeremias declared: “Stand ye on the ways and see, and ask for the old paths,
    which is the good way, and walk ye in it, and you will find refreshment for your souls.”
    (Jer. 6:16)

    According to Monsignor Andrew Summersgill, general secretary of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, “The numbers in the seminaries have fallen and the numbers are likely to remain at about that figure.” He added that the Catholic hierarchy in England would now study “the most appropriate way to train priests in the 21st Century. Finance would have to be one element of that but this process is not driven by finance at all, it is about the end product, how you get good priests.”

    There is actually a very simple recipe to “get good priests”: offer a traditional Catholic formation and the traditional Catholic liturgy. If our thoroughly modern prelates would only do this, they would have more vocations than they could handle.

    But that is the last thing they have in mind. No, the “renewal” of Vatican II must go on. In their statement about the seminary problem in England, the bishops said they were “faced with the challenges of our times and we need to recognize the possibilities for renewal and hope. We are increasingly aware of the diversity within our present seminary system and of the variety of needs the seminaries are required to address in the formation of priests for our dioceses.” In other words, their solution to the priest shortage is more of the same liberal gobbledygook that has destroyed the attractiveness of the priesthood in the first place.

    Summersgill said the Church “is considering ways to boost the number of trainee priests.” One wonders what “ways” of boosting the “number of trainee priests” Summersgill has in mind. This much seems certain, however: these “ways” will not include the traditional ways of the Roman Catholic Church.

    As the prophet Jeremias declared: “Stand ye on the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, which is the good way, and walk ye in it, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Jer. 6:16) But over the past 40 years Catholic churchmen have wandered from the old paths into regions of scandal, apostasy and ruin. The closing of seminaries in England is but one consequence of that fatal deviation.